30 June 2014


Original Story:  freep.com

As Michigan’s charter law was put together two decades ago, those drafting it faced a problem: Who should be responsible for authorizing charter schools and keeping an eye on them?

It could have been the Michigan Department of Education, but legislators, representatives from then-Gov. John Engler’s office and others working on the law didn’t want to tie up the schools in a traditional education bureaucracy.

That led to the state’s 13public universities. With 10 of the 13 boards running the schools featuring board members handpicked by Engler, the move was made to make those schools the backbone of the charter system.

Engler “knew he had appointed the board members, so he knew he would have influence,” said Jim Goenner, an early CMU hire who became the director of CMU’s charter school office. Goenner, now president/CEO of the National Charter Schools Institute, said he believes the universities are doing a good job running the charter school system.

Western Michigan University and Michigan Technological University are the only state universities with an appointed board that do not have charter schools.

In the late 1990s, a faculty committee looked at whether Western Michigan should start schools. The recommendation was that WMU become involved only in charter schools that had the support of existing traditional public schools, WMU spokeswoman Cheryl Roland said. The university did get involved in planning for one middle school, but it never opened — and the university has not pursued doing another one.

Michigan Technological University never pursued charters in part because it does not have a teaching college.

The three Michigan public universities with elected boards — University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University — don’t have any charters.

At U-M, the decision not to charter schools is simple, said longtime board member Andrea Fischer Newman.

“We’re not in the K-12 charter school business,” she said.

Longtime officials at MSU couldn’t remember any formal discussion of chartering schools by MSU’s board.

But Wayne State jumped in early — opening its own public school in 1993, even before the charter law took effect. It was turned over to Detroit Public Schools in 2002. WSU officials said at the time they wanted to partner with DPS, not compete with it for students. Today, Wayne State has no charters.

Twenty years after the law took effect, Dan DeGrow, former Republican Senate majority leader, said he still likes having universities involved. He believes the charter system is a mixed bag now and would like to see the law require more connection to the universities’ schools of education, which train teachers.

“I would require any charter authorizer to be heavily involved in setting curriculum, hiring staff and making decisions (for the charter school).

“If they had more involvement, then if things went wrong, it would be embarrassing for the universities and perhaps they would act sooner to fix or close the schools.”


Original Story:  freep.com

A man who spent seven years in prison on a child molestation charge before his conviction was overturned has settled his lawsuit against his defense attorney for $503,000.

Jackob Trakhtenberg, a retired Chrysler engineer, was convicted of criminal sexual conduct during a 53-minute trial before an Oakland County Circuit Court judge in 2006. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

His court-appointed attorney, Deborah McKelvy, made no opening statement and called no witnesses except Trakhtenberg.

The case against him began after his ex-wife — following a contested divorce — made allegations that he had sexually assaulted his young daughter. The daughter, 8, also testified she had been touched.

Within days of Trakhtenberg’s conviction, his ex-wife filed a civil suit seeking Trakhtenberg’s property, retirement and bank accounts. His grown children from a previous marriage then hired civil attorney James Elliott on their father’s behalf. Jurors in that civil case determined after a six-day trial that the allegations were false and ruled against the ex-wife.

Trakhtenberg appealed his criminal conviction while in prison, and the Michigan Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2012. He then sued McKelvy for malpractice. The case was set to go to trial but settled Tuesday. His civil attorney said the settlement was one more vindication for his client.

“He wanted his name cleared, and to get on with his life,” Elliott said. “He’s been reunited with his daughter, his family, and he wants to leave this behind.”

McKelvy, in the settlement, admitted no wrongdoing. Her attorney, Michael Sullivan, said she was relying on sound trial strategy, and that Trakhtenberg admitted to investigators on several occasions that he had touched his daughter’s genitals, although he claimed he was applying prescription ointment for an infection and had been instructed by the girl’s mother to do so.

“His defense, his only defense, given the age of his daughter and his admission he touched her genitals is that he did not do so for the purpose of sexual gratification,” Sullivan said. “Because the question of what went through Trakhtenberg’s mind when he admittedly touched his 8-year-old daughter’s genitals could only be known through his testimony, Ms. McKelvy made the strategy decision to opt for a bench trial at which Trakhtenberg would tell his side of the story.”

13 June 2014

HVACR Ranked Among Top 15 for Refrigeration Technician Training

Original Story: Ferris.edu

Students looking for the top programs in refrigeration technician training will recognize Ferris State University listed among the nation’s 15 best, according to HVACClasses.org.  Sign up now for their HVAC Program to start your future.

While the website acknowledges some of the challenges faced by students in their pursuit of becoming a refrigeration technician, the website notes that the right education can make all of the difference in the world. In its list of the 15 top refrigeration technician programs, Ferris’ Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration programs rank prominently. The website notes “That the training programs included on this list are diverse, both geographically and in content. However, each of these programs offers refrigeration technician training that has been shown to be among the best in the country. These schools are qualified to train brand new refrigeration technicians and get them prepared to start in the workforce with the proper knowledge and certifications.”

The ranked training programs, listed in alphabetical order, include:

    Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute
    American Trainco
    Bay State School of Technology
    College of Southern Nevada
    Coyne College (Ill.)
    Delaware Technical Community College
    Emily Griffith Technical College (Colo.)
    Ferris State University
    Harper College (Ill.)
    Ranken Technical College (Mo.)
    Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association
    Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (Ill.)
    Tennessee College of Applied Technology
    The Refrigeration School (Ariz.)

The website’s methodology cites four main factors: refrigeration specific training, Environmental Protection Agency approval, geographic diversity and school accreditation.


Original Story:  FreeP.com

The Henry Ford Health System had a $12-million operating loss last year amid the cancellation of its planned merger with Beaumont Health System, the installation of a pricey medical records system and decisions by more patients to cut back on hospital and doctor visits due to higher insurance deductibles and copays.

Total revenue for 2013 climbed $32 million to $4.52 billion. The hospital system's net income was a positive $500,000, as the sale of a dialysis unit in Toledo offset the operating loss.

Henry Ford CEO Nancy Schlichting said these latest financial results, released to the public this week, reflect challenges in the health care business that affected hospital systems across the country.

She said the Henry Ford system faced various new costs and Medicare reimbursement cuts in 2013 stemming from the Affordable Care Act, but had yet to feel the anticipated boost of having newly insured patients because coverage under the law didn't begin until this year. The Medicare cuts alone totaled $30 million.

"We're doing OK," Schlichting said. "Our balance sheet is stable. Our earnings are not what we'd like, but we anticipated them."

Bond rating agency Moody's Investors Service said last month that it had placed Henry Ford's credit rating under review for a possible downgrade because of an unexpected decline in the nonprofit health system's "already low operating cash flow."

The agency also pointed to the May 2013 cancellation of its planned merger with Beaumont as a cause for concern.

Yet in an interview this week, Schlichting recalled that Henry Ford was the one approached by Beaumont for a merger, and can easily go it alone.

"We never thought we were running to a merger to save us," she said.

Schlichting said Henry Ford is poised for a stronger 2014 because it is finally done installing the medical records system and anticipates new revenue from Michigan's recent expansion of Medicaid coverage to more low-income people.

Although Medicaid reimburses Henry Ford for only about 60% of the costs of a patient's hospital visit, that amount is better than getting nothing for a treatment that still would have been given if the patient lacked any health coverage.

The reported cost of Henry Ford's uncompensated care for underinsured and indigent people rose $18 million last year to $314 million. That figure includes charity care, bad debt and the unpaid cost of Medicaid and some Medicare procedures. Hospitals can sometimes net modest profits on Medicare procedures.

Schlichting said Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit experienced a significant decrease in patient admissions last year, and doctors throughout the system are getting fewer visits (yet more unpaid bills) from patients whose health insurance copays and deductibles have gone up.

What's more, Henry Ford surgeons are finding themselves much busier at the end of each year because by then patients are closer to fulfilling their annual deductible.

"Some people are choosing not even to go to their doctor for primary care visits because they can't afford the copays," she said.

One bright spot on Henry Ford's balance sheet was the cost of insuring its own 17,964 employees. The total cost of health care for those workers dropped 14% in the past three years, and Schlichting credits the organization's wellness initiatives, including a decision to stop hiring smokers and serve healthier food in its cafeterias.

"We got rid of the fryers," she said. "We don't have one fryer in this health system."

Henry Ford financial statistics

  • Had a $12-million operating loss last year
  • Revenue grew $32 million to $4.52 billion
  • Currently has 17,964 full time-equivalent employees
  • Spent $356 million in recent years on new electronic medical records system
  • 43% of its patients on Medicare